A powerful, heart-felt drama, A Midwinter Night's Dream is one of the finest works to date by acclaimed Serbian director Goran Paskaljevi´c. Lazar Ristovski, an actor mostly known for his comedic roles, gives a powerfully understated performance as a nightmare-ridden war veteran who tries desperately to connect emotionally with an autistic girl and her refugee mother displaced by Bosnian Serbs during the war. The film draws a pessimistic picture of post-war Serbia, a locale simultaneously caught between its guilty memories of recent conflicts and the rising tide of ultra-nationalism. There's a brooding feeling of imminent violence always omnipresent in the air, but the aggression here is less intense than depicted in Paskaljevi´c's The Powder Keg (U.S. title: Cabaret Balkan). And here Paskaljevi´c two works demonstrates great sensitivity in his exploration of the world of autism and the uneasiness it provokes in "normal" people. Central to the production was the idea to cast an actual autistic girl, the sweet-faced Jovana Miti´c, in the key role-a decision that influenced the use of small digital video cameras during filming that captured Mitic's reactions over the passage of time. In A Midwinter Night's Dream, autism is also a multi-metaphor for Serbia's ills; highlighting a people's alienation from one another, their inability to comprehend their actions, and the group's panicky fear of losing their cultural identity. Actress Jasna ?Zalica, who is actually a Bosnian Muslim who appears in another film in this year's festival, Days and Hours, plays Miti´c courageous mother.
Goran Paskaljevic was born in Belgrade in 1947. Between 1967 and 1971, he studied at the Prague school of cinema (FAMU). His first short film, Mister Hrstka (1969), was banned by the Czechoslovakian regime. However, it was seen by Milos Forman, Jiri Menzel, and Vera Chytilova, and Paskaljevic´ found himself accepted into the ranks of the New Wave directors. He has made 30 documentaries and 13 feature films. In 2001, the Variety International Film Guide named him one of the top five directors of the year.